The Vice President of USI Consultants, Michael Obergfell, was appointed by the City to be the President of HHPA – or Hoosier Heritage Port Authority. The fox is in charge of the hens. USI is a civil engineering firm based in Indianapolis. It is found they have over $2 million of various road and other contracts currently existing between USI Consultants and Hamilton County. Amid the safety allegations surrounding the operations of the ITM, Mr. Obergfell was involved with the review of various inspections by the Federal Railroad Administration and private entities on behalf of HHPA. Incidentally, every report and even Mr. Obergfell indicated that the tracks were in appropriate condition for the type of railroad activity (tourist railroad operations) which had been running on the tracks. At the conclusion and review of multiple inspection reports no violations were found. All parties agree on that.
In short: USI has over $2M in gov’t contracts and USI’s VP is in charge of the running / operation of the train on the tracks. The VP of USI has been hired to create trails and paving of those very tracks he’s in charge of operating. Huge conflict of interest.
To further this point, why were ITM rail operations not reinstated after the FRA reports? It seems to confirm that the HHPA President’s position with USI Consultants creates a serious conflict of interest which obliged him to influence the decisions concerning the railroad operations in favor of the will of the Mayors of both Noblesville and Fishers, and the officials residing over the issue with Hamilton County.
This is just one of many circumstances within the rail / trail debate that need to be clarified within the public eye.
In addition, one might argue train vs. trail – but at the end of the day, Mayor Fadness of Fishers’ goal is secure the land the rails sit on for development. His trail is only the carrot to appeal to the residents. So the effort by our elected officials to coordinate the demise of a private entity that was self-funded is reprehensible. This sets a precedence. Who will be next?
It’s also worth mentioning trails cost the tax payers $100,000 per trail, per year to maintain. Noblesville’s current plan to have Brenda Myers, Hamilton County Tourism, to run the train from Arcadia to Tipton will also have to be subsidized by tax payer money, while the ITM has always been self-funded.
The FOIA emails reveal a coordinated take-down of a private entity for developer money. So much for a gov’t of the people, for the people, by the people.